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Reviewed by Stephanie Dagg for Readers' Favorite
"Dark Throne" is the third in the absorbing and masterfully-written 'Dark Pilgrim series' which has at its heart Ailanthus and his small band of friends of assorted species. “I am Bhasan Volans, son of Deneb Aquila Volans, and I am the Emperor of the Imperium,” announces Ailanthus during a meeting with the Druzsni leadership. He is only pretending at the time. Whether he is or isn’t, and whether he can or cannot bring himself to assume this role, is the uniting theme of this book, set in a very disunited galaxy. Ailanthus feels nothing but antipathy towards the Imperium. Can he really be expected to lead it? Can he bring peace to the huge diversity of co-existing lifeforms that include humans, Kroor, Dwad Mehstiv, Ynos, Morype Slugs, H’Chalk and Druzsni. If that is not enough, the Lord Cardinals of The Church of the Blessed Prophet continue to scheme and complicate matters in their attempts to retain control of both the Church and the Imperium. Can Ailanthus control them?
I feel this book is even more neatly structured than its predecessors. It opens and closes with references to the Ynos, threatened at first but posing a threat themselves at the end. There is betrayal throughout, in small and big gestures. Not only does Ailanthus face it, but he knows he will perpetrate it himself if he is to unite the warring galaxy. In the prologue we see Marines spilling out of their ship “like a virus”. Another virus runs rampant both through the galaxy and the book. The epilogue closes with the observation that humans are chaotic, but this meticulously organized and tightly constructed novel suggests the exact opposite!